Rome mayor’s anti-migrant stance signals shift to right for Italy’s Five Star Movement

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Nando Sigona, University of Birmingham

The mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi, believes the Italian capital is facing a new migrant emergency. “We can’t afford new arrivals,” she argued in a letter sent to Italy’s Ministry of Interior on June 15. “Rome’s reception capacity is on its knees,” she continued, adding that new arrivals would have “devastating social costs”. According to the Italian interior minister, Marco Minniti, new arrivals in Rome are in line with agreed quotas.

This was not Raggi’s view only six months ago, when she spoke in early December at an event hosted by the Roman Catholic Church to showcase positive responses to refugees in European cities. Raggi, who is from Beppe Grillo’s Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S) or Five Star Movement, praised the role that cities such as Rome and Barcelona have in welcoming refugees and celebrated the contributions newcomers bring to society. In a post…

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My (Roma) neighbours and I, the President

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by Nando Sigona

Enrico Rossi, president of Tuscany, and his neighbours, 2014 Enrico Rossi, president of Tuscany, and his neighbours, 2014

In the last weeks, Italy has witnessed a spiralling resurgence of xenophobia, with migrants being violently attacked by gangs of far right activists and marches against immigrants organised in highly diverse, and often deprived, neighbourhoods by alleged ‘ordinary’ citizens. The long list of episodes which are contributing to create a toxic climate and a widespread sentiment of moral panic, includes a visit by the media-savvy new leader of the Northern League, Matteo Salvini, to a Roma encampment just before the regional election in Emilia Romagna that provoked a violent response from anti-fascist and anti-racist activists and hours of media coverage for Salvini; and a 500 people-strong sit-in organised by the right wing student organisation Blocco Studentesco in front of a Roma camp in via Cesare Lombroso in Rome to protest against the alleged misbehaving of some Roma against…

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